The Second Coming of Christ (Revelation Sermon 34 of 49)
February 04, 2018 | Andy Davis
Christ: A Wonderful Savior, a Terrifying Enemy
The Lion and the Lamb
There are two comings of Christ to the earth. The first was a coming of grace. The second will be a coming of glory. The first occurred in meekness, lowliness, and obscurity. The second will occur in power, radiance, and majesty. The first was surrounded by animals in a stable — as a baby, he was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. The second will be surrounded by the mighty armies of heaven. The first was a picture of infinite humility and poverty. The second will be a display of position and authority. The first was announced by an angel to the shepherds, proclaiming “Peace on earth, good will toward those on whom His favor rests.” The second will be announced with trumpets of war, with wrath and destruction to His arrogant, wicked enemies.
The first, He was like a lamb. The second, He will be like a lion. These images of lion and lamb have been opened for us throughout the book of Revelation. Revelation 5:5-6 says, “‘Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.”
Jonathan Edwards spoke from this text of Christ’s amazingly diverse perfections and excellencies. How different a lion is from a lamb! Lambs are meek and gentle, easily led to shearing and to the slaughter with quiet bleating. Lions are terrifying, overpowering creatures, weighing over 500 pounds sometimes, whose roar can be heard five miles away, whose teeth can rip to shreds instantly, whose paw can strike to the ground effortlessly. These are opposite images.
The First Coming
On the first coming, Christ was like a lamb. He was meek and gentle in his deportment to sick and dying sinners. He was patient and tender-hearted day by day. Quoting Isaiah, Matthew 12:20 says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” This is a picture of his gentle dealing with sinners. We are like bruised reeds; he does not break us but is very gentle with us. We are also like smoldering wicks — there is a work of grace in us, but also a smoldering through indwelling sin. We are mixed. He does not snuff out that spark of grace that he has lit in us. He is able to fan it into a flame until it is a bonfire of righteousness. Christ is meek and patient and tender-hearted. His most powerful description of himself comes in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It is the only description where he puts adjectives to himself. Gentle, humble in heart, a king whose yoke is easy. If we bow to place our stubborn necks under his yoke, we will find that it easy and his burden is light. That is the nature of King Jesus. His most powerful action in his first coming was dying on the cross like a lamb. As Isaiah predicted in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
Like a Lamb to His Enemies
After Revelation 5, the title of Lion is not ascribed again to Jesus. He is repeatedly referred to as Lamb, even with the odd phrase, “the wrath of the lamb” in Revelation 6. Revelation is written for believers, and to us, He is always Lamb, never Lion, except on our behalf. Over 20 centuries of church history with the advance of the Gospel, we also see how lamb-like he is even to unbelievers. He is patient, forgiving of blasphemies and the hard words spoken against him. No human being in history has been so slandered as Jesus Christ, but he says, in the passage about the blasphemy against the Spirit in Matthew 12:31: “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven.” See how gracious he is. He is not vindictive. For 20 centuries, he has not been vindictive against people who hate and denigrate and oppose and fight him every step of the way. Instead, he has stood all day representing his Heavenly Father, as did the father of the prodigal son. Romans 10:21 says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” He reminds people over and over, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
He was gentle toward Saul, who was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples on the day he was converted. Saul had a vision of the resurrected glorified Christ while on the road to Damascus. Instead of the terrifying image in Revelation 19, that gracious glorious Savior said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Now, get up and go into the city. You will be told what you must do.” Saul never got over that vision; all he wanted was to see it again. In Philippians 3, he says, “All I want is to know Christ, that one that appeared to me in radiant glory.” He sensed, more and more as he went on in sanctification, how much he deserved to be struck dead that morning. Instead, Jesus was a lamb to him, very gentle, and forgave him. But someday, dear friends, all of that will end.
At the Second Coming, Christ’s terrifying wrath will be on full display. He will be Lion on that day to his enemies. He will roar like a lion; he will rise up to defend his people, his bride, to fight for her. He will rip apart His enemies with no mercy. Joel 3:16 says, “The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” We can say plainly that Jesus Christ is a sweet and gentle Savior, but Revelation 19 shows what a terrifying enemy He will be at the end of the world.
At the Second Coming of Christ, we will see a promise fulfilled: Jesus’ promise to come back, which he gave in his own words as well as through his messengers. Revelation 19:11-21 is the account of the terrifying Second Coming of Christ. It is the fulfillment of a promise He made to us, the Church. Christ’s name is revealed in the context of his promises to his people. Verse 11 says, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” He is faithful to his promises. He is not a liar or a promise-breaker.
There are many promises of the Second Coming. One of the most powerful is there at the beginning of the book of Acts. Jesus died on the cross as a bloody atonement for sinners like you and me, but God raised him from the dead on the third day. After his resurrection, he appeared over a period of 40 days to his disciples to train them, and he taught them many things about the Kingdom of God from the Scriptures. Acts 1:6-11 says, “So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”
Those are his final marching orders, “You will be my witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit to the ends of the earth.” When that work is finished, He will come back. Jesus himself promised the Second Coming many times. John 14:1-6: “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I'm going.’ Thomas said, ‘Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way?’ He said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Now, we come to Him by faith, but some day he will come back to take us to be with him forever.
Matthew 16:27: “…the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”
Matthew 24:27: “…as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” He will come like lightning across the sky. The summer after I graduated from MIT, I crossed the country with a friend of mine who was taking a job in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles. It was a great trip. Driving down a highway across a long valley in Montana — Big Sky Country — there was an electrical storm such as I had never seen in my life, with massive clouds — I call them Second Coming clouds — lit up by flashes of lightning, obvious and big and visible. As lightning that flashes in the east is visible in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:30 says, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” It is a clear prediction of the Second Coming of Christ.
Matthew 24:37-39: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 25:31-32 says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
He predicted it during his trial before Annas and Caiaphas, the Jewish leaders who hated him and had conspired to kill him. They were ready to kill him, but the false witnesses could not coordinate their stories, frustrating the leaders. Finally, the high priest said, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “I Am” — God’s name.
Predicting Daniel, he said in Matthew 26:64, “‘I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes…” The prediction of his own second coming in glory is what condemned him to death.
Jesus is depicted here as faithful and true. He promised he would do this, and he will do it. Earlier in the same book, in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen."
The Final Battle
God’s Enemies Gather
The context of the Second Coming is the final battle. Eschatology, the study of the end of the world, is like a big jigsaw puzzle — pieces here, pieces there, and fitting together. The book of Revelation is like that, so remember what we have already learned, that there will be a massive final battle. It is into this battle that Jesus comes back. Something is happening ging on on earth that motivates Him, to put it mildly, to come from Heaven to earth to end human history. John says, “Then I saw the beast [the Antichrist, the one world ruler who is in charge of the final empire] and the kings of the earth [subordinate to the beast] and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.”
These armies have come from all over the world, assembled under the authority of the Antichrist, ruler of the empire. Their purpose is to make war on Christ and his army, though they likely did not expect that they would fight Christ directly. They did not think the Second Coming would happen. They did not anticipate a warrior from Heaven descending with his army. The kings of earth are coming together for genocide, to wipe what is left of the people of God, the Jews, from earth, centered in this particular location in Palestine called Armageddon. By now, God has taken away the blindness from the hearts of the Jews. He will remove that veil that has hidden their eyes from seeing Christ in these prophecies. Romans 11 says that He will take away the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, and they will turn and all Israel will be saved.
The Jews have refused to bow down to worship the beast or to receive the mark of the beast on their forehead or hand. They have not played along, so they are the enemy. Revelation 16:12-16: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. [These deceptive demons trick people to assemble under the Antichrist to fight Jesus and His people.] Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed. Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”
The Antichrist’s worldwide kingdom is made up of lesser kings who give their power to him. He is therefore an infinitely lesser version of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 17 speaks of these lesser kings and their desire to assemble and fight for the Antichrist in his efforts to wipe out all of God’s people. Revelation 17:12-14 says, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” They will fight, but they will lose because Jesus is omnipotent; He never loses.
The Antichrist gives the order to his henchmen, the demons, to do supernatural deceiving signs and wonders. People are tricked and lured into gathering by these signs. Behind the scenes is the dragon, Satan. His bitter hatred for the people of God drives his desire for the genocide. Throughout redemptive history, he has sought to slaughter the Jews. Now he has the chance to do it, so he thinks, especially now that they love Jesus and have found in him the Son of David, the Son of God.
ALMIGHTY GOD is the Mover
Satan especially wants to kill them there at Armageddon. Revelation 12:17: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman [Israel] and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Behind the scenes, the dragon and lying demons seem to be in control, but ultimately Satan, the demons, the Antichrist, the kings bringing their armies are not causing all to gather in one place.
The real mover here is Almighty God, assembling all of Christ’s enemies into one place for that final battle. They think they will put an end to Israel to destroy the people of God, but God is actually gathering them for their own slaughter. This is predicted plainly in the book of Joel, which I am currently memorizing. I am living in the battle of Armageddon every day. Nothing like Joel’s words of prophecy have yet been fulfilled in Israel’s history.
Though Joel is a “minor prophet”, it is a significant book. Peter quoted Joel 2 for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Joel 3 predicts the final battle. Joel 3:9-17: “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. [The sixth bowl judgment in Revelation 16 dries up the Euphrates and sends out frog-like demons to gather the kings of the world.] Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears [the reverse of the more well-known verse]. Let the weakling say, ‘I am strong!’ [Still weak, but ready to fight.] Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD! [See Revelation 19:14] ‘Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, [“the Lord judges”] for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side [See Revelation 14]. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-- so great is their wickedness!’ Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. ‘Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.’” Revelation 19 is exactly what Joel said would happen.
The immediate context of the Second Coming is clear. The seven bowls have been poured out: the world is in its death throes. The oceans have turned to blood and every living thing in them has died; the fresh water has turned to blood. The sun’s heat has greatly increased, scorching people like fire. The earth was plunged into total darkness for a short time and has passed — nothing can be done in that kind of darkness.
Finally, the Euphrates River has parted to allow these kings of the East to assemble for their death. They are motivated by Satan’s hatred for God and His people. Antichrist is motivated by his own prideful rage that this remnant will not bow down to worship him; his arrogance reaches to heaven. They assemble in Palestine, assuming it will be an easy battle. It be a very easy battle, the easiest in history, but not the way they think. They are confident in their own victory because they will be fighting against a small number of people who have no military strength and will be easy to wipe out, so they believe.
Christ the Warrior King
The Rider on a White Horse
But as they assemble to slaughter God’s people, the heavens open. Revelation 19:11: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.” At the baptism of Jesus, the heavens were ripped open and a dove came down. When the heavens are ripped open this time, it is not a dove coming down. This is the final demonstration of God’s right to interfere with the affairs on earth, to get involved in human history. He has that right because He is the King.
Jesus is riding a white horse, in clear contrast to his entry into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified. There, he rides on the foal of a donkey, meek and humble, Zechariah told us, a picture of humility. I don't ride horses or donkeys, but it is obvious that donkeys are much lower. It is easy to knock someone off a donkey. I will not be riding anything in a battle, but if I did, it would not be a donkey. A horse is massive. Heavy cavalry would be almost unstoppable. This is a picture of power. The entry into Jerusalem was about peace and humility, but this time he is here to wage war.
Many commentators say that this horse is symbolic. You horse lovers hope it is not symbolic — you would like to see Jesus literally on a horse. We have no way of knowing whether it is symbolic or not and it does not matter, but it could be that like the sword coming out of the mouth, it is symbolic. Either way, there is a sense of awesome military power.
He is called Faithful and True. He is keeping his promise. His overwhelming, perfect justice is in focus here. It is absolutely right what he is about to do. The justice of Jesus is depicted in Isaiah 11:3-5: “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” As sinful human beings, when we read Revelation 19, we tend to see carnage, an absolute bloodbath. We may become queasy and pull back. We may want to charge God with injustice, like when Joshua entered Jericho and they killed everybody — men, women, children, infants. We have a hard time with that kind of bloodshed, but this is what the text says. Here the perfect righteousness and justice of God is on display. These are wicked warriors who are assembling to slaughter the innocent.
Fierce Kingly Authority and a Secret Name
Revelation 19:12: “His eyes are like blazing fire…” This is a picture of perfect holiness. Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” He sees everything and everyone with pure eyes. Proverbs 20:8 says, “When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.” He is judging with justice and can sift out everything to burn up the chaff.
Revelation 19:12: “…on his head are many crowns.” Like that great hymn, Crown Him With Many Crowns. The Lamb upon His throne. This is the lion upon his horse crowned with many crowns. This pictures his authority, his right to judge. He is the king of every nation, the king of the universe.
Verse 12 also says “He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.” It's a powerful verse. I thought a lot about that. My initial reaction is, "John, why did you tell us then?” Why would you tell us? He has a name written on him that only He knows.
Years ago, a beloved missions professor, Christy Wilson, told me he had been in at a missions conference. He said, “Someone there knew you and said to say hello.” I said, “Really? Who was it?” He said, “I don't remember, but he said to say hello.” I thought, “I don't know what to do with that, but thank you.”
This verse may beg the question, “So why tell us?” But the reason is powerful. Jesus wants us to know that we do not know everything about Him. He has a name that he calls himself which we know nothing about, though perhaps we will one day. In heaven we will be learning Jesus forever — we have much to learn about him. He has other names given here in this very passage that he wants us to know, like King of kings and Lord of lords, and Word of God, but this name written on him is not revealed.
A Bloody Robe
Revelation 19:13: “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood.” This is not His atoning blood. The time for that is over. This is the blood of carnage of His enemies, depicted prophetically in Isaiah 63:1-6, in which Jesus is trampling the grapes of the wickedness of Edom. “Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.’”
Isaiah 63:1-6 is clearly talking about the Second Coming of Christ. His garments are spattered in blood. Though it may seem strange that there blood on His garments before the battle, remember that this is his final battle, not his first. The wrath of God is being revealed right now against all the godlessness and wickedness of men. He has been doing this for 20 centuries, but this is the final battle.
His Revealed Name: The Word of God
Revelation 19:13: “…and his name is the Word of God.” There is no question that this is Jesus. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. This is the Second Coming of Christ, the Word of God. He is so named because by his word, he created the heavens. By his word, he saved his people, those who repent of our sins and believe: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” But also by his word, his enemies will be slaughtered.
The Armies of Heaven
Revelation 19:14: “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” This is an image of perfect holiness. These are likely all of the 100 million angels as well as all of the redeemed throughout history. They are dressed in garbs of holiness. When the Son of Man comes, He will bring the angels and the redeemed. However, none of them seems to be armed, or at least none of them is depicted as fighting. The casualty list at the end on our side will be zero. We will be there as witnesses, not to fight.
The Sword Coming from Christ’s Mouth
Revelation 19:15: “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter.” The double-edged sword is symbolic of the power of the word of God, the most devastatingly powerful weapon in human history, more powerful than a thermonuclear bomb or any weapon ever conceived. It is simple. Jesus looks at His enemies, says “Be dead,” and they are dead.
The Word of God is like a sharp double-edged sword, and it cuts right through. Nothing slows it down. When Jesus was arrested in John 18, around 600 Roman soldiers came with Judas, who was filled with the devil. Jesus went out to them, unafraid. John 18:4-6: “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I AM!!!’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” Satan, in Judas, fell on the ground in front of Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” John quotes Psalm 2:1-5 “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath…’ saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.’” The Father says to the Son in Psalm 2:8-9, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
The Wrath of God
Revelation 19:15 also says, “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” Jonathan Edwards never got over that verse. He used this text, among others, to portray the wrath of God in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
The KJV of this verse says, “He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Edwards said this: “The Words are exceeding terrible: if it had only been said, the Wrath of God, the Words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: But ‘tis not only said so, but the Fierceness and Wrath of God: the Fury of God! the Fierceness of Jehovah! Oh how dreadful must that be! Who can utter or conceive what such Expressions carry in them! But it is not only said so, but the Fierceness and Wrath of ALMIGHTY GOD. As tho’ there would be a very great Manifestation of his almighty Power, in what the fierceness of his Wrath should inflict, as tho’ Omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and excited, as Men tend to exert their Strength in the fierceness of their Wrath. Oh! then what will be the Consequence! What will become of the poor Worm that shall suffer it! Whose Hands can be strong? and whose Heart endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable Depth of Misery must the poor Creature be sunk, who shall be the Subject of this! He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” The phrases stack up to give us a sense of how terrifying it is.
Christ’s Kingly Name
Revelation 19:16: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” The Antichrist is an imposter — his time is done. Jesus is the true King of kings and Lord of lords. Who are the kings and lords over whom he is King and Lord? We are. The saints will inherit the earth and rule under him forever.
The Carrion Birds
Revelation 19:17-18: “And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.’” By now the darkness has passed, but this angel stands mid-heaven blocking the sun like an eclipse with his mighty power and summons carrion birds “for the great supper of God.” Human bodies are God’s direct work. He knit us body together in our mothers’ wombs. He gave us our blood, kidneys, lungs; He is sustaining us right now. Our organs, blood, all parts of our bodies are gifts from Him. But He will rip apart the bodies of these wicked warriors on that battlefield; it will be a bloodbath.
All levels of society from kings and generals and mighty men to the lowliest slave and free people will be there. This is a vast slaughter, reminding us of Jesus’ ominous words in Matthew 24:28: “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”
At the end, Christ conquers all of his enemies. Revelation 19:19-20: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” This is a quick battle. The opposing general and his false prophet are captured quickly and thrown into Hell. Revelation 19:21: “The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” The Second Coming of Christ brings terrifying carnage.
Unbelievers: Come to Christ NOW
In the day of salvation, flee to the Lamb. This gentle, meek, humble Savior says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Stop fighting me. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me. Yield to my kingly rule and find in me a gentle, humble, tender hearted Savior.” God gave him as a propitiation through his blood for anyone who believes. You need only to trust in him. You do not need to do anything except to hear the Gospel — Jesus is the Son of God, who died on the cross for sinners — and to trust in him. In fact, you must not do good works to pay for your sins. When you trust in Jesus, you will be forgiven. At that point, you will know you will be with him on that final day, dressed in a white robe of righteousness that you do not deserve. Come to Christ.
Believers: Look Forward to What We Will Learn in Heaven
Second, ponder the fact that Jesus has a name written on him that only he knows. Eagerly anticipate the education we will receive in Heaven. “When we've been there 10,000 years, bright, shining as the sun…” we will still have things to learn about Jesus. That is exciting — I look forward to that. Jesus has aspects to his personality we do not know. We may have a hard time seeing Jesus as depicted in the account I have read, but it is true. Ponder the greatness of Christ and yearn to follow Him.
Believers: Be Ready, Constantly Ready, for His Coming
Let us, as believers, be ready for the Second Coming. He has not told us exactly when it will happen. He told a series of illustrations about a master who goes away, entrusting his affairs to his servants, and then he returns. We must be ready for Him to come back all the time, to be busy doing what He wants us to do. That includes the two journeys: first, the internal journey of holiness. 1 John 3 says, “When we see him, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” We will be instantly transformed; everyone who has hope in him purifies himself as he is pure. That is holiness. Second, the external journey of evangelism. We are told to share the Gospel. Let’s do some workplace evangelism this week. Let’s talk about the Second Coming of Christ. Let’s warn people who are not ready for Him.
When I was a missionary in Japan years ago, I traveled every week from Tokushima to Takamatsu where I taught English and Bible classes. It was a wearying trip. Japan is a hard place to work. They are very respectful and kind, but they do not repent and come to Christ easily. I was weary. One day, as I got off the train and started walking to the English class, I looked up and, like that sky in Montana, the sky was full of dramatic electrical storm clouds. The final verse of the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” came to mind: “And Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight: the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend! Even so, it is well with my soul!”
Lord, thank you for the truth that the Scripture tells us of the future. We would have no way to know that this is coming except that you have told us. Christianity is different from any other religion in the world in this issue of prophecy. You have told us that you are coming, and you have told us to get ready, to be busy and occupied until you return. Help us to be filled with the Spirit. I pray for any who walked in here as unbelievers, that they would flee the wrath to come and find salvation in the Lamb of God. Help all of us, O Lord, to be faithful, diligent, and holy; to put sin to death; and to warn our neighbors, co-workers, unsaved relatives and total strangers here in Durham to flee to Christ. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.